I think that Susie Dent from Countdown would be able to confirm this for me, but I am sure there is a special word to describe that feeling you have the morning after you have spent the day on a hot beach on holiday. Whatever that word is, I had it on the morning of our fourth day of the holiday. I was tired and happy going to bed but I had a better night’s sleep as the jet lag began to subside. Having said that, I was still up early and wide awake at 7am due to the traffic noise.
I sat in the kitchen, made a coffee and nibbled on some toast. I suddenly felt a bit sad when I realised that the living room table was exactly the same Ikea table that we have in our games room back home. We are on the other side of the world yet we have the same furniture, it shouldn’t be that way. One of the reasons I like to travel so much is to see how people do things in different cultures and witness different ways of life. It cannot be a good thing that half a world away people have exactly the same table, it was all a little bit sad in my eyes.
While we were galavanting at the beach the previous day, Titchy’s cousin had dropped off the keys to her car so that we could take it out on a day trip. Once we were all washed and ready we all squeezed into the tiny Hyundai Getz, affectionately called Getzy, and headed out towards McLaren Vale. This was around a 45 minute drive outside of Adelaide centre and it was a world away from the busy and modern city. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t pass through a single area that looked untidy or rough, but it was rural and sparse and very obviously at the end of a very dry spell. Imagine driving through rural England, but if it hadn’t rained for 4 months, then you wouldn’t be too far off. Rather than lush greens and colours, it was all yellows and browns. The big difference was the trees; they looked very different and many of them were without bark, as if it was too hot for even the trees to wear a jacket.
Our first stop was Woodstock Wine Estate, a vineyard with an exciting twist. We skidded into the car park in a ball of dust as we were told that the main event was due to start at 11.30 and we arrived at 11.29.50 and we didn’t want to miss it! It turns out that things were a little more relaxed than we thought and the show started whenever everyone was ready. So we waited in a very modern and airy room where you could sample wine from the vineyards. My eye was drawn to what looked like a WW2 flight helmet on a display behind the counter. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask about it but I have done my research back in Blighty instead.
The helmet belonged to the ‘father’ of the vineyard, Doug Collett A.M., who served with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. Towards the end of the war he flew over Europe and was inspired by the vast vineyards in Italy. He was captivated so when he returned to Australia after the war, he studied and set up the vineyard. It is a fascinating story and a reminder of how far the roots of war spread around the world but also a reminder of the good that could come out of wartime experiences as well as the bad. More of that later in the holiday, but read more here if you want to find out more about it.
So, what was the main event that I mentioned? I’ll tell you what it was……..it was amazing. We walked two minutes around the corner and though a metal gate in a four meter tall mesh fence. In front of us was a huge field in which stood around a dozen kangaroos, joeys and a bloody great big emu. The chap that was showing us around had a tray with around a dozen plastic drinks bottles which had been filled with milk and adapted with a rubber feeding teat like that on a baby bottle. That’s right…..we got to feed the kangaroos! They stood about four foot tall and were the nicest natured things you could wish for. They were very obviously domesticated to a certain degree and used to human feeding, but they were lovely. You could stroke them and, although they looked soft and fluffy, they were actually covered in very coarse, almost spiny hairs. The best was yet to come though. The guide, once the milk bottles had been emptied out, turned over to the solids. What do you think they fed the kangaroos? I’m going to guess that your guess was wrong here as they were handed dry Weetabix. You should have seen their little cute faces as they held the biscuit in their little hands and gnawed away at the dry dullness. Amazing memories that will last forever.
According to Titchy’s relative, who was our guide for the day, the wine here was not the very best and so we headed to the next stop for the day. It wasn’t until we were driving into the next vineyard did I realise that we had fed some kangaroos, petted a joey or two and got up close to an emu. We had used their toilets and listened to their stories and had not spent a single penny. I felt bad, but promised that the next time I had the chance, I would buy one of their bottles of wine to make amends.
The next stop was the Coriole Vineyards. Those members of our party (which had swelled by meeting up with a group of Titchy’s Scottish clan) who were into their wine spent some time at the sampling station while I looked after the kids and the childish adults on the lawn where we kicked around a football in the roasting midday sun. There were beautiful gardens and it was an idyllic setting. We sort of spoiled it for the ‘proper’ guests with footballs bouncing around and the air filled with childish laughing and giggles. I felt bad, but not bad enough to try and keep a load of kids interested in wine tasting as an alternative.
Next stop on Getzy’s tour was the Goodieson Brewery. Again, the ‘proper’ adults in the party partook in a range of testing sized samples as we took delivery of a load of family sized, and quite perfect, pizzas that had been made offsite and shipped in with the owner’s consent. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, they were stone baked, fresh and topped with amazing flavours and sauces that an authentic Italian restaurant would have been proud of.
The lads started kicking a football around and, within 10 minutes, my boy had kicked the ball into a 3 meter deep ditch. Our host, Titchy’s cousin’s groom-to-be, went to his car to pull out a cricket set. Again, within 5 minutes the ball was at the bottom of the same ditch and so that was game over. When they told me what had happened (there was left over pizza so I wasn’t in any mood to play sport), I strode over to the ditch ready to climb down to get the missing balls back. I was warned not to and I thought that people were just being polite and didn’t want me to graze my knee or dirty my hands but when they said ’There might be snakes down there’ I very quickly turned tail and wrote them both off as a bad loss! It really is a different world down there, I’d rather be safe in the cold than permanently terrified in the heat!
Leaving the sports equipment in the snake pit, we left the brewery and headed home in Getzy. This time the phone gave us a route home on the motorway rather than the back roads that we arrived on which wasn’t as pretty but we got home little faster. What we did notice was that each road bridge over the motorway carried a name tag and there were lovely names such as ‘Peppermint Road’ and “Honey Pot Lane”.
As we had the car, we decided to pop into the supermarket on the way home to pick up some basics. When I say basics we cleared out Coles (their Tesco) of chocolates and treats to take home for friends. We also picked up two pots of Pringles just because of their crazy flavour; “Mystery’ and ‘Buttered Popcorn’. The idea with the mystery flavour was that you had to guess what it was as part of a competition and I have to remind myself to find out what the heck it was! I’m not sure that ‘generic meat’ would be the right guess but it’s all I had.
Unpacked and back home I had time to kill and energy to spare. I decided that I would go for a quick run around the area. I didn’t get too far as running in that heat is bloody hard work, it was like running inside a sauna. I did run past a most impressive building, St Peter’s College. It looked like a watered down Hogwarts with lawns that looked like they were cut with nan scissors. I wouldn’t like to guess how much that place cost per term.
For our evening entertainment we headed over to the bride and groom-to-be’s house to return Getzy and to enjoy a family get together and barbecue. My little boy was desperate to throw another shrimp on a barbie but it wasn’t to be! It was a lovely house in the suburbs and was really cool and stylish inside. We settled at the big table in the back garden and chatted with strangers that quickly became friends. The food was excellent, the drinks flowed and the company was superb.
The kids ran around on the lawn playing cricket, tag and generally larking about. Of course my boy kept up his record of punting balls out of bounds and hit a glass with a stray throw that drenched a guest, but that’s just part of his charm. Apparently. I couldn’t get too upset with him as, later that night, I knocked over a glass and smashed it, much to his amusement.
Without the trusty Getz to get us home we ordered an Uber and had a good old chat with the driver on the way home. Another day and the smiles were getting bigger and brighter day by day.